The workshop was arranged by the Friends of Merlin Woods, who are working very hard to reverse years of encroachment, and are preserving this wonderful resource for the future.
My personal list for the day reached around 200 species and this post shows some of the highlights.
I entrusted my net to two lads who were happy to chase down particular specimens on request, and we were able to photograph two specimens of the 4-spotted Chaser:
Since the woodland is on limestone and is a good deal further south than the area I usually survey, I had hoped to find species new to my list. One welcome addition is the Gorse Shieldbug. These are rather skittish and quickly run out of sight. You really need to wait until they think you're gone in order to get a decent shot:
|Gorse Shieldbug. On Gorse.|
Oak trees are host to hundreds of species of insect and fungi, so are always worth a look. I spotted a new miner, which has now been identified and confirmed as the micromoth Acrocercops brongniardella which is rather scarce with just a handful of records in the country:
|Mines of the micromoth Acrocercops brongniardella on oak|
At first I thought this was the common jumping spider Salticus scenicus, but when the images were blown up I realised that it was quite different. The dayglow yellow palps and striped legs leads us to Heliophana cupreus. About 6mm long.
|The jumping Spider Heliophanus cupreus|
A dark area of woodland contained countless specimens of Birds-nest Orchid:
|Birds Nest Orchid|
The woodland has some unusual trees, with interesting specimens cropping up in unexpected places. One Whitebeam had leaf galls which immediately attracted my attention, since the tree is scarce and galls are largely overlooked. It keys straight to the mite Eriophyes arianus, and I can find no previous records for Ireland.
|Eriophyes arianus, top view|
|Eriophyes arianus, underside|
New to my species list, and probably first Irish record.